[taken from a variety of sources, including: Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, Cambridge University Press, 1988; J. J. Saunders, A History of Medieval Islam, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978.] These are generally Arabic words, unless identified otherwise; though many Arab words were/are used in Persian and Turkish. [When in Turkish, the letter "c" is pronounced as "j" in jelly.
'abd = slave; property rights in a person, regulated by law and Quranic ethics. In Muslim societies, slaves were commonly employed as household servants and soldiers.
Abdallah = slave of God
acemi oglan = Turkish, a recruit levied by the devshirme.
adab = habit, upbringing, behavior, refinement of manners, literary cultivation, urbanity; the ideal behavior of a scribe or spiritual cultivation of a Sufi.
abu = father of
'adl = justice; in law, the quality required to be a legal witness; in religion, the state of personal perfection of one who fulfills God's teaching; in philosophy, the harmony among the faculties of the soul.
agha or aga = Turkish word for elder brother, chief, or master; in Ottoman usage, the title of a high-ranking military official, as in Janissary Aga, head of the Janissary corps.
ahl = family, household, people. e.g. ahl al-kitab: people of the Book, that is, Jews and Christians who possess their own scriptures; ahl al-bayt: people of the house, family of the Prophet Muhammad; ahl al-dhimma: people of the covenant, Jews, Christians, and others accepted as subjects under Muslim rule and entitled to legal protection in return for payment of taxes; ahl-i hadith: a community in India and Pakistan who profess to follow only the Quran and hadith as sources of Muslim law and do not accept the traditional Muslim schools of law.
ak = white [Turkish], as in Ak Deniz, the White Sea, the Turkish name for the Mediterannean Sea.
akche = Turkish silver coin.
akhi = Turkish, a member of 14th-century Anatolian groups of young men who held to the ideals of futuwwa [see further on in the glossary], generally urban, artisan, and middle class.
akhlaq = ethics; Greek ethics conveyed into Islamic thought by the translation of Aristotle and Galen and incorporated into the writings of Miskawayh, al-Ghazzali and others.
akinci = Turkish, a soldier in the advance guard, or light cavalry.
'Alids = descendants of the Prophet Muhammad's cousin 'Ali; the family who claims to be the heirs of the Prophet's religious and political legacy and the rightful heads of the Muslim community.
'alim (plural = ulama) = a learned man, particularly in Muslim legal and religious studies; occurs in varying forms such as mullam, mullah, molla.
alp = Turkish word for "hero"; as in Alp Arslan, the Seljuk ruler who defeated the Byzantines at Manzikert.
amin = trustworthy; title for the holder of an official position such as the head of a guild.
amir = title of a military commander, govenror or prince; sometimes appears as emir; in Turkish the equivalent is bey or beg; Amir al-Mu'minin, is commander of the faithful, a title often used for the Caliph.
anjuman = assembly; refers to religious educational and political associations of Muslims, especially in Iran, India, Pakistan, and Turkey.
ansar = "helpers" of Muhammad at Medina; later used as designation for members of Muslim religious and political associations.
ashraf = people who trace their lineage to the Prophet Muhammad or his companions; in India, the Mughal ruling classes; singular is sharif.
'ashura = fast day on the tenth of the month of Muharram, the first month in the Muslim calendar; commemoration of the martyrdom of Husayn, important particularly for Shi'ite Muslims.
askeri = Turkish, military; the military portion of the imperial government.
atabeg = Turkish, the tutor of a Seljuq prince, his principal military adviser; later, independent governors.
a'yan = local notables; in late Ottoman times, holders of officially recognized political power.
ayatollah = miraculous sign of God, the highest-ranking scholar of law in the "twelver" Shi'i religious hierarchy.
azab = member of the irregular infantry.
baba = Turkish, for father, old man, Sufi leader.
banu = sons of, followed by name of a tribe; as Banu Hilal.
bayram = Turkish, a Muslim religious festival.
bedestan = main section of the city market, or bazar.
bektashi = member of a religious fraternity in the Ottoman system, closely associated with the Janissaries.
bey = or beg, Turkish title for army officer, official or ruler of small principality.
beylerbey = Ottoman official, governor of a province [eyalet].
birun = Turkish, external, the external service of the imperial Ottoman palace.
boluk = a company of the Janissaries.
caliph = English form of khalifa, successor of the Prophet Muhammad and head of the Sunni Muslim community; in Sufism, the disciple of the master authorized to transmit prayers, initiate new members, and act as a deputy or head of the Sufi order.
da'i = "summoner", propagandist or missionary for Shi'i movements; usually the lowest-ranking figure in a Shi'i hierarchy.
dair = Christian monastery.
dar = house, dwelling, abode; dar al-Islam, the lands where Islamic law prevails; dar al-harb, the land of war, territory not under Islamic law and subject to conquest by Muslims.
dawla = dynasty; by extension, government or state; in Turkish, devlet.
devshirme = Ottoman levy of Christian youths to be trained as janissaries and court officials.
dhimma = contract of hospitality and protection for peoples of the revealed religions [i.e. Christianity and Judaism]. dhimmis = the protected peoples in an Islamic society.
diwan = a collection of poetry or prose; a register, the name applied to government bureaus which keep tax, military, and other records. [in Turkish, divan].
evliad = used in Central Asia to refer to the Sufis who descend from the Prophet Muhammad and the early Caliphs.
falasifa = wise men, philosophers, the Muslim proponents of Greek philosophy
faqih = scholar of Islamic law, a jurist.
faqir = poverty-stricken mendicant who lives only for God.
farangi = common Arabic word for a Western European; sometimes frenk.
fatwa = an opinion on Islamic law given by a mufti; collected legal opinions form a corpus which modifies the application of the early codes of Islamic law; in Turkish, fetva.
fiqh = understanding, jurisprudence, Islamic religious law.
firman = command, edict of a ruler; in Turkish, ferman.
futuwwa = virtues or qualities of young men, including bravery and nobility; the ideology of fraternities of young men; the ideology of the akhis, see above.
ghazal = a love song; an Arabic poetic form which passes with variations into Persian, Turkish and Urdu poetry.
ghazi = [in Turkish, gazi] a frontier warrior for the faith.
ghulam = [Persian] a young male slave in military or palace service.
hadith = a report of the sayings or deeds of the Prophet Muhammad transmitted by his companions; collections of hadith are second in authority to the Quran as a source of Muslim belief and practice.
hajj = the annual prilgrimage to Mecca expected of every Muslim at least once in a lifetime [finances and other circumstances permitting].
hakim = one skilled in medical, philosophic or scientific learning.
Hanafi = one of the four Muslim schools of law.
Hanbali = one of the four Muslim schools of law.
haram = the portion of a house reserved for women, from which extra-family males are excluded [in Turkish, harem].
hatun = in Turkish usage, the wife of the ruler.
hijra = the move of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to medina in the year 622 [CE]; the base year of the Muslim calendar.
himaya = commendation or protection given by nomads to settlers, landlords to peasants, the powerful to the weak, in return for payment; the protection of European consuls for local clients.
hoca = in Turkish, teacher.
'ibada = obedience to ritual religious practices, including ablutions, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage [plural is 'ibadat].
ibn = son of; often abbreviated to 'b'.
'ilm = knowledge, especially of religious truths; the knowledge which guides behavior.
iltizam = a form of tax farm in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt.
imam = the supreme leader of the Muslim community; the successor to the Prophet Muhammad, used commonly by the Shi'a for 'Ali and his descendants.
imaret = in Ottoman usage, an endowed complex of religious and charitable facilities, commonly including a place for prayer, a college, library, soup kitchens, hospital, inn.
iqta' = a grant of the rights to collect taxes form land conceded in return for development or administrative or military service.
Islam = submission, unconditional surrender to God.
Isma'ilis = a branch of the Shi'a who look to the leadership of Isma'il, a son of Ja'far and his descendants; this branch includes the Fatimids; later divided into several branches, including the Nizariya who spread from Syria and Iran into India.
jama'a = meeting, assembly, the community of Muslim believers.
jami' = mosque for Friday prayers; in Turkish cami.
janissary = member of the Ottoman infantry corps, the elite regiments of the Ottoman army.
jihad = striving; effort directed toward inner religious perfectin and toward "holy war" on behalf of Islam against unbelievers.
jinn = spirit beings, composed of vapors or flames
jizya = a poll tax [that is, on individuals] levied on non-Muslims in a Muslim-ruled society.
jum'a = day of worship (Friday) in Islam.
ka'ba = the central santuary of Islam, located in Mecca; the main object of the hajj.
kafir = an unbeliever, one who is ungrateful to God for his gifts.
kalam = theology, the subject which attempts to give rational proofs for religious beliefs; deals with the problems of divine unity, attributes of God, human free will, self-determination, etc.
kanun = state-promulgated administrative regulations or codes of law, usually dealing with financial and criminal matters; in contemporary usage, all codes of law promulgated by governments.
khalifa = successor of the Prophet Muhammad and head of the Muslim community; the Caliph; in Sufism the disciple of the master authorized to transmit prayers, initiate new members, and act as a deputy or head of the Sufi order.
Khan = a Turkish title, originally the ruler of state but then applied to subordinate chiefs and nobles; also in Turkish, a caravansary.
khanaqa = a building for Sufi activities where the shaykh may live, instruct his disciples, and carry on Sufi worship.
kharaj = the tax on land.
kharijism = early religio-political movements in Islam whose followers held that the Caliph should be elected by the community.
khatib = official preacher who presents the Friday sermon; in principle, the representative of the ruler; a governmental secretary.
kuds = holy; the holy city [Jerusalem] is called Al-Kuds.
madhhab = a Muslim school of law.
madrasa = a Muslim college, with primary function of the teaching of law and related religious subjects.
Maghrib = the West [normally Western North Africa].
mahalla = a town quarter.
mahdi = the "guided" one, the person who will appear on the last day and establish Islam and the reign of justice.
majlis = a gathering, assembly, or council.
maktab = a primary school for teaching children recitation of the Quran and the basics of reading and writing.
Maliki = one of the four Muslim schools of law.
mamluk = a slave or freedman in military service.
masjid = a mosque or place of prostration and prayer; a center for Muslim community affairs.
mawla = client or freedman, servant [plural is mawali],
mihrab = the ornamented niche in the wall of a mosque which indicates the direction of prayer.
millet = religion or religious communities; in modern use, nation.
mufti = an expert in Muslim law qualified to give authoritative legal opinions.
muhtasib = an official who supervises fair market practices and public morals.
mullah = a learned man.
nasiha = faithful advice to a ruler; exhortation to do good.
padishah = one Ottoman title for a sultan.
pir = a title for a Sufi shaykh.
qadi = judge
qibla = the direction of the ka'ba in Mecca, which Muslims face during prayers.
ra'is = a person of high rank, a headman or chief [in Turkish, reis].
Rum = Rome, but in Islamic usage, East Rome/Byzantines; in Seljuk Turkish times, the name of the Seljuk state in Asia Minor; in later Ottoman times, the name of a province in north central Asia Minor.
salat = Muslim ritual prayer performed five times daily; in Persian, called namaz.
saray = palace; the palace of the Ottoman sultans in Istanbul, Topkapi Sarayi.
sehzade = Turkish, son of a ruling Ottoman sultan, "prince".
shahada = "witnessing"; the Muslim profession of faith.
shah-en-shah = king of kings, a Persian title of the emperor.
shahid = witness, martyr.
Shari'a = the path to be followed; Muslim law, the totality of the Islamic way of life.
sharif = noble; a descendant of the Prophet.
shaykh = an elder, head, chief, respected man of religion, Sufi leader, teacher.
Shaykh ul-Islam = a chief jurisconsult or mufti; the head of the religious establishment in the Ottoman Empire [in Turkish, SeyulIslam.
Shi'a = the group of Muslims who regard 'Ali and his heirs as the only legitimate successors to the Prophet Muhammad, divided into sects according to allegiance to different lines of 'Alid descent.
sipahi = a cavalry soldier in the Ottoman army, usually of high rank in Ottoman society, and recipient of property revenues in lieu of salary. [in India, sepoy].
Sufi = a Muslim mystic; named after the early ascetics who wore garments of coarse wool.
Sultan = "power", authority, the title of a Muslim monarch.
Sunna = "the trodden path," custom, the practice of the Prophet Muhammad and the early community which becomes for all Muslims an authoritative example of the correct way to live a Muslim life.
Sunnis = those who accept the Sunna and the historic succession of Caliphs, as opposed to the 'Alids; the majority of the Muslim community.
Tanzimat = reorganization, the name for the Ottoman reforms of the 19th century.
ta'rikh = history, chronicle; in Turkish, tarih.
tariqa = a way, the Sufi path; the system of beliefs and training transmitted by partricular schools of Sufis; a brotherhood of Sufis.
tasawwuf = the practice of Sufism.
tekke = Turkish, for a Sufi residence.
timar = Turkish and Ottoman usage for a grant of tax revenues to support a military retainer of the Sultan.
'ulama' = the collective term for the scholars or learned men of Islam.
umma = people or community; the whole of the brotherhood of Muslims.
wali = a protector, benefactor, companion, governor; a seint or a Sufi whose tomb is visited for its blessing. [in Turkish, vali, governor.]
waqf = an endowment, an irrevocable grant of the income of property set aside in perpetuity for a religious or charitable purpose. [in Turkish, vakif].
wazir = chief minister in a government; in Ottoman usage, vizir, government minister. The chief minister [prime minister] in the Ottoman government was the vizir-i azam.
wilayat = a legal competence; power delegated to a governor or wali; in Ottoman usage, vilayet, a term for an administrative district; also eyalet].
yasa = Mongol law.
zakat = legal alms tax raised from Muslims.
zawiya = a building which functions as a Sufi residence, place of prayer, school, and the tomb of a saint.